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Is there a cure for oral cancer?

Marshall Posner, MD
Hematology & Oncology

Yes there is a cure if it is found in time and you have a team of caregivers that include a surgeon, radiation oncologist and medical oncologist. Not all three may provide treatment, but all three must be involved in the assessment of the cancer and in the decisions with cancer patient and the family about what therapy should be given. The most important treatment for cure is the first treatment although some recurrences can be cured. There are different kinds of oral cancer that adds to the complexity and the need for a "multi-disciplinary approach” by experts.

There are three ways of treating oral cancer. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • Chemo therapy
  • Radiation treatment  
  • Surgery

Sometimes just one way is used and sometimes there is a combination of treatments used. It depends upon the type and extensiveness of the cancer and the patient's health.

Oral cancer, which can affect your mouth, lips, tongue, as well as other areas around your mouth and throat, can be cured when detected early. The overall 1-year survival rate for patients with all stages of oral cavity and pharynx cancers is 81%. The 5 and 10-year survival rates of those with oral cancer are 56% and 41%, respectively.

It is possible for oral cancer to be cured if it is found before the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes. Unfortunately, if the cancer is found after it spreads to the lymph nodes, the survival rates fall drastically, but it may still be able to be cured. As it is always possible for the cancer to come back, it is important to get regular dental checkups to make sure that the cancer has not returned.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.